Kesari (2019 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byAnurag Singh
Written by
Produced by
  • Karan Johar
  • Hiroo Yash Johar
  • Apoorva Mehta
  • Aruna Bhatia
  • Sunir Khetarpal
StarringAkshay Kumar
Parineeti Chopra
CinematographyAnshul Chobey
Edited byManish More
Music bySongs:
Tanishk Bagchi
Arko Pravo Mukherjee
Chirantan Bhatt
Jasbir Jassi
Jasleen Royal
Raju Singh
Distributed byZee Studios
Release date
  • 21 March 2019 (2019-03-21)
Running time
150 minutes[1]
Box office207.09 crore[2]

Kesari (transl.Saffron) is a 2019 Indian Hindi-language war film[3] written and directed by Anurag Singh. It was jointly produced by Aruna Bhatia, Karan Johar, Hiroo Yash Johar, Apoorva Mehta, and Sunir Khetarpal under the banners of Dharma Productions, Cape of Good Films, Azure Entertainment, and Zee Studios. The film stars Akshay Kumar with Parineeti Chopra, Vikram Singh Chauhan, Sarwar, Vansh Bhardwaj, Jaspreet Singh, Vivek Saini, Vikram Kochhar, and Rakesh Sharma in supporting roles. It follows the events leading to the Battle of Saragarhi, a battle between 21 Sikh[4] soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment of the British Indian Army and 10,000 Afridi and Orakzai Pashtun tribesmen in 1897 [citation needed].

Initially planned as a production collaboration between Salman Khan and Johar with Kumar starring in the lead role, Kesari was announced in October 2017, with Kumar and Johar reprising their responsibilities; Khan later quit the project. Parineeti Chopra was cast as the wife of Kumar's character. Principal photography for the film began in January 2018 and concluded in December. The soundtrack was composed by Tanishk Bagchi, Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Chirantan Bhatt, Jasbir Jassi, Gurmoh and Jasleen Royal with lyrics written by Kumaar, Manoj Muntashir, Kunwar Juneja and Bagchi. Produced on a budget of 80 crore (equivalent to 99 crore or US$12 million in 2023), the film was distributed internationally by Zee Studios.[5]

The film was released in India during the Holi festival, on 21 March 2019. It received positive reviews from critics. It had a good start at the box office, while the opening day morning collection was affected by Holi-related celebrations.[6][7] The film grossed over 100 crore worldwide in its opening weekend.[2]


Ishar Singh is a havildar in the Sikh Regiment of the British Indian Army. His superior and commander is an arrogant British officer, who deems all Indians to be cowards, and is jealous of Ishar Singh because of his superior fighting skills.

The regiment is posted at Gulistan Fort, on the border between British-held territory and the Afghan border. Once, while on a border patrol, the troops see a group of Pashtun Afghan tribesmen, led by one Saidullah, on the verge of killing a married Afghan woman because she refuses to accept her husband, who has been chosen by her family without her consent. The British officer refuses to intervene and save the woman saying she is an Afghan citizen and does not reside in British territory; and since it is a family matter pertaining to tribal custom, and the policy of the British Raj is to not interfere in such matters. In defiance of the orders of his officer, Ishar Singh goes ahead and intervenes, fights off the tribesmen, and rescues the woman by killing her husband.

The British officer writes a strong report informing his commanding officer, who sits at the nearby Lockhart fort, of Ishar Singh's disobedience and insubordination. Soon enough, the Afghans attack the British-controlled Gulistan fort, but are held at bay by Ishar Singh who fights valiantly, killing many Afghans. Nevertheless, Ishar Singh is blamed by his superiors for his actions which caused the breach of peace with the Afghans. He is given a punishment transfer to Saragarhi fort, which sits between Gulistan and Lockhart forts, and enables communication between them. Ishar Singh duly travels to Saragarhi fort, where he finds the troop in a mess. He enforces discipline by punishing all to stay without food for an entire week. The troops are furious at first, but later begins to respect Ishar Singh after learning that he too was living without food. Meanwhile, Saidullah forms an alliance between the Afghan tribes and motivates them to mount an attack on British territories as a unified force. Ishar Singh and Lal Singh go to a nearby village in search of their informant who hadn't reported to them for over three days.

The British Commanding Officer Col. John Haughton from Lockhart fort sees the Afghan Forces marching towards Sargarhi and alerts Ishar. Ishar and his battalion see ten thousand tribesmen approaching and encircling the fort. Saidullah, with the entire Afghan army at his back, beheads the woman Ishar Singh had rescued earlier in front of the Saragarhi Fort. Despite the commanding officer's orders to fight, Ishar lies to them and says that the commanding officer has told them to abandon the fort and flee. Ishar wants them to decide on their own to stay and fight, not due to an order from a British officer. Ishar Singh and his men decide to fight till death. Khuda Daad the cook volunteers to fight but Ishar Singh asks him to instead provide water to the injured soldiers (Including the Afghans). The Afghans initiate the battle, and Bhagwan Singh is the first to be killed. Gurmukh Singh, being an inexperienced soldier and very young, is unable to fight, due to which Ishar Singh asks him to keep the CO updated regarding the battle, and decides to prolong the battle to prevent the Afghans from advancing to the Gulistan and Lockhart forts. As the battle prolongs, Lal Singh alone fights the Afghans outside the fort and dies while asking one of the sepoys to close the gate to the fort. The Afghans manage to destroy the west wall of the fort using explosives.

Ishar Singh remembers his wife Jeevani one last time after removing the stripes from his uniform and starts fighting the Afghans with a red-hot sword until he gets fatally stabbed. Saidullah kills Khuda Daad before himself being stabbed to death by Ishar while trying to remove his turban. Ishar's bravery impresses an Afghan chieftain who orders his men not to touch any Sikh's turban. At this, another Afghan chieftains named Gul Badshah orders the signaling post to be lit up so Gurmukh Singh's painful screams can be heard as a consolation. As the Afghans set the post on fire, Gurmukh Singh emerges with his body on fire. He chants "Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akaal" thrice, grabs Gul Badshah and triggers the grenades attached to his body, resulting in a huge explosion. The shout echoes and reaches both the nearby forts. The Sikh soldiers present there also start chanting in the name of their Guru. The Afghans loot the fort and eventually set it on fire. The British Parliament honours the fallen with a two-minute silence and posthumously awards them the British Order of Merit - the highest gallantry award an Indian soldier could receive.


  • Akshay Kumar as Havildar Ishar Singh
  • Parineeti Chopra as Jeevani Kaur
  • Mir Sarwar as Khan Masud
  • Ashwath Bhatt as Gul Badshah Khan
  • Rakesh Chaturvedi as Mullah Saidullah
  • Suvinder Vicky as Nk. Lal Singh
  • Vivek Saini as Sep. Jiwan Singh
  • Vansh Bharadwaj as L/Nk. Chanda Singh
  • Pritpal Pali as Sep. Gurmukh singh
  • Vikram Kochhar as Sep. Gulab Singh
  • Ravinder Pawar as Sep. Attar Singh
  • Surmeet Singh Basra as Sep. Gurmukh Singh
  • Ajit Singh Mahela as Sep. Nand Singh
  • Sandeep Nahar as Sep. Buta Singh
  • Harvinder Singh as Sep. Daya Singh
  • Rakesh Sharma as Sep. Bhola Singh
  • Adhrit Sharma as Sep. Uttam Singh
  • Harbhagwan Singh as Sep. Bhaghwan Singh
  • Rajdeep Singh Dhaliwal as Sep. Ram Singh
  • Gurpreet Toti as Sep. Saheb Singh
  • Harry Brar as Sep. Sunder Singh
  • Pali Sandhu as Sep. Narayan Singh
  • Vikram Singh Chauhan as Sep. Hira Singh
  • Gagneet Singh Makhan as Sep. Jiwan Singh
  • Brahma Mishra as Daad
  • Jaspreet Singh as Taklu
  • Toranj Kayvon as Gulwarien
  • R. Bhakti Klein as Major Des-Voeux



In 2017, Salman Khan and Karan Johar announced that they would be producing a film together based on the Battle of Saragarhi starring Akshay Kumar in the lead role. Media reports later speculated Khan left the project in favor of a similarly themed film starring Ajay Devgn, and in October that year, Johar and Kumar announced a statement about their collaboration on the film; that Khan had quit the film, and that it would be titled Kesari.[8] Parineeti Chopra was confirmed for a minor role as the wife of Kumar's character, whom he had left behind at the village after joining the army.[9]


Principal photography began on 5 January 2018[10] and finished on 31 December 2018.[11] The film was produced on a budget of 80 crore (equivalent to 99 crore or US$12 million in 2023).[5][12]


Soundtrack album by
Released18 March 2019[13]
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelZee Music Company
External audio
audio icon Audio Jukebox on YouTube

The music of the film is composed by Tanishk Bagchi, Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Chirantan Bhatt, Jasbir Jassi, Gurmoh and Jasleen Royal with lyrics written by Kumaar, Manoj Muntashir, Kunwar Juneja and Tanishk Bagchi.

Track listing
1."Ek Onkaar"Guru Nanak Dev JiJasbir JassiJasbir Jassi1:02
2."Ve Maahi"Tanishk BagchiTanishk BagchiArijit Singh, Tanishk Bagchi, Asees Kaur3:44
3."Teri Mitti"Manoj MuntashirArkoArko, B Praak5:14
4."Sanu Kehndi"KumaarTanishk BagchiRomy, Brijesh Shandilya2:48
5."Ajj Singh Garjega"Kunwar JunejaChirantan BhattJazzy B4:02
6."Deh Shiva" (Male)Guru Gobind Singh JiGurmohSukhwinder Singh3:11
7."Deh Shiva" (Female)Guru Gobind Singh JiJasleen RoyalJasleen Royal2:36
8."Teri Mitti" (Female)Manoj MuntashirArkoParineeti Chopra3:37
9."Teri Mitti" (Tribute Version)Manoj MuntashirArkoArko, B Praak3:48
Total length:30:02

Marketing and release[edit]

Kumar released Kesari's first look poster on 12 September 2018, through Twitter. Another poster was released on India's Republic Day, 26 January 2019.[14] The film's theatrical poster was released on 11 February 2019.[15]

The following day, Dharma Productions released three videos titled "Glimpses of Kesari" on their YouTube channel, detailing the film's production.[16][17] A second theatrical release poster for Kesari was released on 20 February 2019.[18]

The first song of the film "Sanu Kehndi" was released on 27 February 2019, the second one "Teri Mitti" was released on 15 March 2019 and the full album was released on 18 March 2019.

Kesari was released worldwide during the Indian Holi festival, on 21 March 2019. It had a release on 4200 screens worldwide, 3600 screens of which were in India and the rest overseas.[19][5]

Home video[edit]

Kesari was made available as VOD on Amazon Prime Video in May 2019.[20]


Critical response[edit]

Rachit Gupta of The Times of India gave Kesari four stars out of five, praising its "technical brilliance, intricate writing and thundering performances".[21] Taran Adarsh gave it four stars and felt it "chronicles a significant chapter from history brilliantly... Nationalism, patriotism, heroism, scale and soul – Kesari has it all".[22] Writing for Times Now, Gaurang Chauhan rated the film three and a half stars out of five and opined, "Kesari is not the best patriotic film or action film to come out of Bollywood, but it surely is worth the time and money".[23] Bollywood Hungama rated it four stars out of five, remarking, "On the whole, Kesari is a brave and inspirational tale of courage, with patriotism and the dramatic battle sequences being the USP of the film".[24] Nandini Ramnath of writes, "Sluggishly paced until the interval and springing to life only in fits and starts in the second half, Kesari is a poor attempt to revisit a chapter in Indian military history that earned the admiration even of British colonizers." Additionally, the movie received negative criticism for its portrayal of the main antagonist as a stereotypical Muslim maulana, as well as for displaying rancor against a Sikh turban by Muslim Afghans.[25]

Box office[edit]

Kesari opened with collection of ₹210.6 million on its first day. The collection of extended weekend of the film is ₹780.7 million, which was the highest opening weekend collection of 2019 for Bollywood films released till May.[26] It's domestic gross was 182.30 crore and overseas gross 24.79 crore. It has grossed 207.09 crore worldwide.[2] The film grossed over 100 crore worldwide in its opening weekend. It became the fastest 100 crore earning film in domestic net in 2019 for Bollywood films released till May.[27] It eventually grossed over 200 crore (equivalent to 249 crore or US$31 million in 2023) worldwide in its fourth week.[28]

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Filmfare Awards 15 February 2020 Best Actor Akshay Kumar Nominated [29]
Best Music Tanishk Bagchi, Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Chirantan Bhatt, Jasbir Jassi, Gurmoh and Jasleen Royal
Best Lyricist Manoj Muntashir for "Teri Mitti"
Tanishk Bagchi for "Ve Mahi"
Best Male Playback Singer Arijit Singh for "Ve Mahi"
B Praak for "Teri Mitti"
Best Action Parvez Shaikh
Lawrence Woodward
Best Production Design Subrata Chakraborty
Amit Ray
IIFA Awards 24 November 2021 Best Film Kesari Nominated [31]
Best Music Director Tanishk Bagchi, Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Chirantan Bhatt, Jasbir Jassi, Raju Singh, Gurmoh and Jasleen Royal
Best Lyricist Manoj Muntashir (For "Teri Mitti") Won
Best Male Playback Singer B Praak (For "Teri Mitti") Nominated
National Film Awards 25 October 2021 Best Male Playback Singer Won [32]
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards India 21 December 2019 Favourite Bollywood Movie Song "Ve Maahi" by Tanishk Bagchi, Arijit Singh and Asees Kaur Won [citation needed]



  1. ^ "Kesari 2019 | British Board of Film Classification". 20 March 2019. Archived from the original on 4 July 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Kesari – Box Office Collection till Now – Bollywood Hungama". Bollywood Hungama. Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  3. ^ "EXCLUSIVE - 'Akshay Kumar gave a nod to 'Kesari's' subject even before it was offered to him': Director Anurag Singh". DNA India. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019. It's a war film and to know what kind of terrain and the need for that location, the budget was high.
  4. ^ "Ahead of Akshay Kumar's Kesari, here's the true story of Battle of Saragarhi". Hindustan Times. 19 March 2019. Archived from the original on 30 October 2022. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  5. ^ a b c "Akshay Kumar's Kesari movie: Check out trailer, box office prediction, songs, cast". Business Today. 18 March 2019. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Kesari box office collection day 1: Akshay Kumar starrer hit by Holi, expected to earn this much: Kesari box office collection". Zee Business. 21 March 2019. Archived from the original on 21 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Kesari Has A Good Start". Box Office India. 21 March 2019. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Karan Johar and Akshay Kumar's Battle of Saragarhi film to be titled Kesari". Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Parineeti Chopra on Kesari: We joke that I did the film just for the romantic song with Akshay Kumar". Hindustan Times. 14 March 2019. Archived from the original on 18 March 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  10. ^ Thakur, Charu (5 January 2018). "Kesari first look: Akshay Kumar begins shooting for one 'epic' film". India Today. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  11. ^ "As Akshay Kumar wraps Kesari, Parineeti Chopra shares her first look from the war film – see photos | Bollywood News". Archived from the original on 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Kesari". Box Office India. 21 March 2019. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Kesari – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Jio Saavn.
  14. ^ "Kesari First Poster Released: Akshay Kumar Pays Tribute To Martyrs Of Saragarhi". Headlines Today. Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  15. ^ Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (11 February 2019). "Unraveling the pages of history... First glimpse of #Kesari... 21 March 2019 release... #GlimpsesOfKesari" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  16. ^ "Glimpses of Kesari – Part 1| Akshay Kumar |Parineeti Chopra". Dharma Productions on YouTube. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Glimpses of Kesari – Part 2|Akshay Kumar|Parineeti Chopra|Anurag Singh". Dharma Productions on YouTube. Archived from the original on 25 November 2023. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  18. ^ Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (20 February 2019). "Trailer out tomorrow... New poster of #Kesari... Stars Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra... Directed by Anurag Singh... 21 March 2019 release. #KesariTrailerTomorrow" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  19. ^ Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (21 March 2019). "#Kesari screen count... India: 3600 Overseas: 600 Worldwide total: 4200 screens" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ "Here is the list of latest movies to watch on Amazon Prime in May 2019". GQ India. Archived from the original on 21 October 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Kesari Review by TOI". Times of India. 20 March 2019. Archived from the original on 20 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  22. ^ Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (19 March 2019). "#OneWordReview… #Kesari: OUTSTANDING! Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Chronicles a significant chapter from history brilliantly... Nationalism, patriotism, heroism, scale and soul – #Kesari has it all... Akshay's career-best act... Anurag Singh's direction was terrific... Don't miss it! #KesariReview" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  23. ^ Chauhan, Gaurang (20 March 2019). "Kesari Movie Review: Akshay Kumar's action avatar is the highlight of this patriotic war drama". Times Now News. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  24. ^ "Kesari Movie Review: Kesari". Bollywood Hungama. 20 March 2019. Archived from the original on 18 June 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  25. ^ Ramnath, Nandini. "'Kesari' movie review: Akshay Kumar flexes his vocal cords in underwhelming ode to bravery". Archived from the original on 27 August 2021. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  26. ^ Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (25 March 2019). "#Kesari benchmarks... Highest *Day 1* of 2019 [so far]: ₹ 21.06 cr Crossed ₹ 50 cr: Day 3 Crossed ₹ 75 cr: Day 4 Highest opening weekend of 2019 [so far]: ₹ 78.07 cr [4 days; Thu-Sun] India biz" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  27. ^ Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (28 March 2019). "#Kesari is now *fastest* ₹ 100 cr grosser of 2019 [so far]... Crosses ₹ 100 cr on Day 7... Thu 21.06 cr, Fri 16.75 cr, Sat 18.75 cr, Sun 21.51 cr, Mon 8.25 cr, Tue 7.17 cr, Wed 6.52. Total: ₹ 100.01 cr. India biz... ₹ 100 cr in days: #GullyBoy [Day 8]. #TotalDhamaal [Day 9]" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  28. ^ "Bollywood Top Grossers Worldwide Bollywood Hungama". Bollywood Hungama. Archived from the original on 18 November 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  29. ^ "Nominations for the 65th Amazon Filmfare Awards 2020 are out! – Times of India". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 6 February 2020. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  30. ^ "Technical Nominations for the 65th Amazon Filmfare Awards 2020". Archived from the original on 2 February 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  31. ^ "IIFA - International Indian Film Academy". IIFA - International Indian Film Academy. Archived from the original on 5 May 2020. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  32. ^ The Hindu Net Desk (22 March 2021). "67th National Film Awards: Complete list of winners". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 22 March 2021. Retrieved 22 March 2021.

External links[edit]